U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods

Rising Temperatures
1991-2012 average temperature compared with 1901-1960 average

The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.

Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States.

“Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.”

The report is the latest in a series of dire warnings about how the effects of global warming that had been long foreseen by climate scientists are already affecting the planet. Its region-by-region documentation of changes occurring in the United States, and of future risks, makes clear that few places will be unscathed — and some, like northerly areas, are feeling the effects at a swifter pace than had been expected.

Alaska in particular is hard hit. Glaciers and frozen ground in that state are melting, storms are eating away at fragile coastlines no longer protected by winter sea ice, and entire communities are having to flee inland — a precursor of the large-scale changes the report foresees for the rest of the United States.

The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday.

Read more at The New York Times

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Categories: Climate change, Conservation, Environment, Environmental history, History

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10 replies

  1. If the USA does not accept Science, we will not survive. I do not understand the current attitude because we have solved problems like this before in our past with the help of Science and our government.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coal, oil and natural gas are big industries. Energy is fundamental to life itself. We live because the earliest organisms on Earth evolved ways to utilize the energy sources in the universe around them. Historically, too, energy has played a major role in the creation of our great nation. Millions of Americans, their fathers and grandfathers, made their livelihoods and built families and communities and cities and states and this nation from oil and coal and natural gas fortunes. There is a deep history there.

      For some, it is easier to resist change then to adapt to it. Human beings have a strong tendency toward self delusion. We like to believe what we want to believe, even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. We have a strong tendency to ignore and deny that which doesn’t support our worldview. That proclivity may well end up being the fatal flaw of our species.

      That our world’s climate is changing rapidly is undeniable, and there is no doubt in the mind of any serious observer that human activities are a major cause. Certainly, our species has faced catastrophic climatic events before. Indeed, most paleoanthropologists will argue that global climatic change was the principal impetus for the evolution of modern human beings. But the difference now is that the Earth’s climate is changing faster and more abruptly than at any other time in the last 700,000 years. And that is because we have significantly altered the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I finally got here konigludwig. Thanks for the invitaiton. I just got back from my trip to Oregon. Drove along the Columbia River Gorge. It was carved out by a series of huge floods from the Missoula lake over two hundred times with the melting of glaciers in ancient times.
        Climate change is already being epxerienced here in my state of Minnesota. We are 7 ft over flood stage on the Mississippi River today. We never had flood in June befre. We never had 25 inches of rain so far in 2014. This will be the new normal. Extremes in a state that has always had four season with wide variations. It seems that the only ones who are the deniers these days are the politicans who do not want to have a serious discussion of policy we need to reduce our carbon emissions beginning now.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Glad to hear that you had an enjoyable trip. I’ve driven along the Columbia River many times. Beautiful country.

          The weather has been odd here, too. We are experiencing an unseasonably mild and rainy summer thus far, after a drier than normal spring. We had no tornado season at all. Globally, this past May was the hottest on record.

          The deniers, of course, are the ones with the vested interests and the politicians representing them, such as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. The oil and gas industry are huge in Oklahoma, and the Koch brothers hail from neighboring Kansas, so no big surprises there.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I agree completely. Sadly the USA leaders supporting the deniers no longer work for the American citizens or the future of humanity. Extremes are being seen every where. The gulf coast will never recover and it is at risk like other famous coastal beaches.

          btw; I love your avatar.

          Liked by 1 person

          • guess I was not logged in and I lost my whole comment.
            My avatar is a Celtic Tree of Life symobl. It speaks deeply ot me. The tree of life symbol transcends cultures, religions, and myths.
            I read many years ago the Icelandic saga/myths. the Tree of Life is central to the origin myths and the final battle bewteen the gods and the giants. In the end there is only the tree with a man and woman hiding inside during the batlle of fire and ice. Slowly, they come out and they tocuh thier feeet upon the gornd and it is warm under their feet. The new beginning…
            Someday I hope to go to Icleand and see the fire and ice.
            But the ice is melting more each year…:-(

            Liked by 2 people

            • That is a cool avatar. I like the way it represents Life as existing in the balance between Earth and Sky.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Lakeviewpilgrim; The tree of life speaks deeply to me also. I studied a view of the tree of life where the bottom of the tree is our roots and it is is meant to help us touch a high conscious. We are grounded in the lower level of the roots and lower trunk. As we mediate and attempt to travel the path to a higher conscious, it is complex yet mystical. It is an old symbol meant to enlighten us.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an article today that I thought others might be interested in. It was from the New York Times. The article, “Taking Effective Action Against the Unstoppable”,”Carbon Cuts Now Won’t Stop Climate Change, but Could Limit Damage”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/business/economy/carbon-cuts-now-wont-stop-climate-change-but-could-limit-damage.html?wpisrc=nl_wonk&_r=0

    Liked by 1 person

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